Racing the week before was spoilt by breaking the outhaul. This week I replaced most of the control lines to avoid a repeat of the incident. Of all of the lines which has made the biggest difference was replacing the elastic that holds the centerboard into the boat. This made going downwind a lot easier as the board stays exactly where I left it.
George has kindly organised a bunch of Tack Tracker GPS units to record the fleets progress. They can be seen on the tack tracker site. I will be referring to the Laser Race 5 and the practice race at the end.
The first lap l got a good start, ducking behind Rod and Ken a number of times. I generally won’t call starboard on other competitors unless I am guaranteed that they will tack well behind me. You can see a number of times I duck behind Rod, and Rod eventually (3:15 into the race) forced me to tack onto starboard just in front of him, forcing him to sail lower once he was in my dirty air and eventually tack. Jonathan P. from the other club took me out towards Carousel, and away from the centre of the course that was favoured the rest of the race.
Watching the first reaching and downwind leg it is obvious that Rod and I are reasonably evenly matched, although we do manage to break away from the rest of the fleet. I am guessing that Rod, Ken and I had better wind at this stage, and fewer boats around us. At the gybe (D) mark I wrapped the mainsheet around the end of the boom and lost a bit of ground.
On the second beat I was able to take the preferred line up the course, eeking out just in front of the pacer fleet who started as we crossed in front of the start line. The guys in the group behind us had to sail through all these boats. If you watch my line near the end of the beat I didn’t commit to any of the lay lines until right at the end.
The next downwind leg was a play for the inside position. You can see that at the mark rounding I got in front of Rod. Unfortunately unseen on the tracking system was that Ken was in front of both of us.
Clear air and clear space to tack allowed me sail an optimal course looking mostly for pressure, taking shifts to get to the gusts of breeze on the course. However I didn’t venture to far from the centre of the course.
On the windward return I followed Ken (who I suspect was following Jonathan) and we went round the D mark. We didn’t lose to much ground as Rod also followed, but it did mean that we missed the shadow of the island. Looking at the VMG data (click on legs tab on left hand panel of tack tracker) George and my speed wasn’t to different and it was the same as Keith. Do note that if you watch Russell and James they both lose out going closer to the island compared to Keith and George who are much wider. A reminder that the shortest line isn’t the fastest.
4th upwind leg I was again looking to sail up the centre of the course, as going towards either the rowing sheds or the island wasn’t paying any dividends. I note that Rod and George who were quite close had roughly the same VMG while George was much quicker on the leg. Sailing a bit of the breeze and keeping the speed up doesn’t necessarily mean a slow over all. Missing a shift near the top mark let Rod catch back up a bit.
Again on the downwind leg it was a balance of taking a wide course and avoiding other boats versus getting the inside running at the gybe mark. I went in earlier to establish the inside position at the mark round (around pacers), you can see that Rod gets taken much wider.
On the last beat the centre of the course seemed to be the best option again. Shifts were really important. If you look at the data for the leg you can see I had the 2nd highest VMG, with the 2nd slowest (out of 6) boats. Keith was the only person faster than me up the leg with a VMG 0.03 of a knot faster but he had an average speed 0.3 of a knot faster. People trying the ‘tack off the point, hit the island’ tactic which works in SW breeze was not working today.
On the last downwind leg I was hoping just to keep up with Ken (not shown on tack tracker). Heeling to windward and riding the boat down allowed me to keep up. The elastic on the centreboard also helped.
Closed in on Ken by tacking out to the island before sailing to the gate mark. Mainly done as Rod was fair enough behind and there was no hope of catching Ken if I simply followed him home. Ken sailed towards the clubhouse end of the line and I headed toward the pin end, again simply because it was a different line to Ken. Luckily for me a slight puff of breeze took me over the line just before Ken. I don’t put this down to good tactics, but simple good luck and taking the alternate line.
On the practice race I was the bunny which means that everyone should have sailed behind me at the start. I forgot that the bunny is suppose to start by gybing onto starboard, so did a gybe spin a bit later on to compensate.
Everyone was very close on the first lap. At this stage I aimed for clear air, and learning from the first race keeping a clear tactical position so I could tack when I needed. The wind had built slightly which allowed mean to push hard out of tack and keep up or push in front of boats nearby. Able to keep a clear racing line meant I tacked first around the top mark.
On the 2nd beat I played the shifts, as I had all day avoiding the ‘corners’ of the course. Usually this doesn’t pay off with people tacking in from the island getting a lift to the top mark. I suspect that some Grand Prix grandstands might have ‘fixed’ that advantage.